: Social commentary

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We are working on an interesting YouTube video lately! Would you like to be a part of it? Read on to know more. 

Teaser of our new project

Camille, our Intern from France, is creating a Youtube video highlighting the stories of those who have personally experienced racism. Here is a little glimpse of what you will get to see (alternatively you can click on the picture above). The goal is to spread awareness on how racism personally affects people and why it needs to be challenged. We believe that the sharing of stories helps us to understand each other and break down the barriers that divide us. What’s more, we will share some helpful links on how you can overcome racism in different walks of life. You can reach Camille at [email protected].

Who Watches The Media?

New research conducted by All Together Now and University of Technology Sydney has found that 62 opinion based reports potentially breached at least one of the media Codes of Conduct due to racism. 

The full research findings are available at alltogethernow.org.au/media-monitoring.

Priscilla Brice, the Managing Director of not-for-profit organisation All Together Now said, “Among the publications we tracked during this six-month study, negative portrayals of race were most frequently published on News Corp’s online newspapers Daily Telegraph, The Australian and Herald-Sun.”

The research conducted between January to July this year, found that Muslims were mentioned in more than half of the opinion pieces, and more than twice as many times as any other single group mentioned. Of these, 63% of reports about Muslims were framed negatively.

“Anecdotally, we know that negative portrayals of Muslims in the media is having adverse effects in communities, with Muslim families (and particularly women wearing hijab or other head coverings) being victimised. All Together Now’s research provides data to show that of the highest-rated news outlets, News Corp is the primary perpetrator. News Corp has a lot of work to do to improve their editorial policies to ensure their journalists don’t target people based on their race, nationality, religion or other cultural attributes.”

The study focused on opinion-based articles published by the four most-watched current affairs TV programs, and the four most-read newspapers nationally, as determined by ratings agencies.

Currently, under some media regulations, audiences have only thirty days in which to make a complaint. The research report recommends that this deadline be removed to allow audiences to make complaints about racist media content at any time, and for the definition of racism be broadened in the Codes of Conduct to include covert forms of racism.

It also recommends that news agencies support journalists to discuss race sensitively. They can do this by providing training, recruiting more journalists of colour, and ensuring that their editorial policies are racially aware.

The full research findings are available at alltogethernow.org.au/media-monitoring.

Sara’s Story

Sara is a mechanical engineer, originally from Egypt, who moved to Australia over a decade ago. She has lived across various parts of Australia, and has encountered soul-crushing racism in cosmopolitan as well as regional parts of the country. Being a hijab-clad Muslim woman has made her an easy and visible target for hateful and violent behaviour.

When she had just migrated to Australia and was looking for a job, she faced several rejections despite being suitably qualified. The penny dropped when one interviewer in Melbourne confessed that he wouldn’t, or couldn’t employ her, because she wore a hijab. He added that while he was being honest, several potential employers might just brush her off with excuses, but that her headscarf was central to the rejections she received. Being unaware of anti-discrimination laws at the time, Sara let the episode pass, and shrugged it off.

She continues to face everyday racism in the form of derisive looks and comments, but a particular incident left her unable to just “move on”, as victims of racial abuse are often urged to do.

With her one-year-old daughter in her pram, Sara was walking along a street near the Westfield mall in Hornsby, Sydney. In anticipation of a council clean-up, the footpath was strewn with discarded household goods. As Sara made her way up the street, she felt her head violently yanked as a woman pulled at her hijab from behind. Caught completely off guard, Sara’s first instinct was to protect her child, and she blocked the woman’s access to her pram, screaming, “What are you doing? Are you crazy?” The woman continued to berate Sara, and picked up the handle of a discarded vacuum cleaner lying on the footpath and threatened to hurt her, saying, “I’m going to kill you.”

Hearing the commotion, a resident in a nearby block of units called the police, and came down to help Sara. As more people trickled out of their homes, the woman ran away, leaving Sara very shaken.

When the police arrived, Sara and others who had witnessed the incident made their official statements. However, despite a clear description of the woman and good leads on where she had headed, no headway was made. Not only did Sara not hear back from the police, but she also struggled with intense panic attacks and was unable to step outside her home for over a year. She has spent a lot of time looking over her shoulder, and cannot shake off the deep-seated fear that the attack instilled in her.

She insists that her hijab is very much an act of agency and choice, and she asserts that she has just as much right as anybody else to be in Australia. “I am well-accomplished, multi-lingual and a good, tax-paying citizen. Why must I leave or change? It’s time for Australians to grow up!” she says, tired of having to defend herself over her choice – to simply be herself.

There’s nothing casual about casual racism

Cosmo article imageCosmopolitan magazine published an article about casual racism in the October issue of their magazine (which is no longer on sale).

If you missed it, you can download a copy of the article (PDF) thanks to Cosmo!

The article features our Everyday Racism app as a solution to teaching people how to speak up against racism.

Journalism and Response-ability

Journalism and Responsibility

 

On Monday 22nd of February, Paul Sheehan, an Australian reporter from the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) released a double page spread about an Australian woman named Louise. She claimed to have been brutally assaulted and raped by a group of men from a specific ethnic minority group. In the article the sub-heading stated, “We’ll never know the scale of the rape epidemic in Sydney”.

 

Louise’s story was later shown to be fictitious.

 

The article was then retracted by the SMH, but the stigma associated with the ethnic minority group is likely to remain, just like the stigma has remained with refugees and asylum seekers from the “Children Overboard Scandal”. The damage created by the media is difficult to reverse.

 

This is because such stories conjure up horrifying images in the minds of readers and whilst reading the article, the readers believe the information that they are consuming is fact. The initial shock value of these stories has a real affect in the mind of the reader; it virtually imprints itself like an un-washable stain.

 

The ABC’s “Media Watch” recently investigated the SMH report and showed an Australian woman speaking at a Reclaim Australia rally at Martin Place on April 4th 2015. This was Louise telling the same story that Sheehan reported in the SMH in February 2016. To call the story “news” is debatable.

 

To add insult to injury in this saga, the SMH printed a small apology (of 99 words) in the bottom corner of page 2 on the following Wednesday. That’s right: the lie takes up two pages and the truth gets 99 words.

 

The most basic form of modern racism makes people from minority ethnic backgrounds invisible. A more sinister form of racism makes people visible through negative acts.

 

Even if the SMH story was true it would still be a form of racism to nominate the ethnicity of the men because it’s really not important. If the story happened to be true, then the rapists are still rapists regardless of their ethnic or cultural background.

 

To make any impact on achieving racial equality, journalists need to play their role: to tell real stories as they happened, and without prejudice. After all, racism stops with every single one of us.

 

Dolls reflecting reality

With the Christmas season fast approaching, it is now that time of year to start looking for presents for our near and dearest. In the lead up to Christmas All Together Now will be looking at different retailers that have embraced racial diversity and multiculturalism in their products. One market that has only recently been blessed with racial diversity in the past decade are toys for children, in particular dolls and figurines.

In the US only last year, a man was confronted with the misfortune of finding out if he was to purchase an African American Barbie doll for his daughter, he would have to fork out more than double the cost of its Caucasian counterpart. When the retailer in question was queried about the discrepancy in price, they offered the man the doll for the lower price and released a statement apologizing for the ‘systems issue’ that caused disparity.

A generation ago in Australia, it was extremely rare to see a doll that wasn’t white, the vast majority of them with blonde hair and blue eyes. Australian children who were Asian, Aboriginal or from other minority groups never saw features resembling their own on a doll, nor any resemblance of their culture.

Fortunately, there has been a shift in the toy market here to reflect the multicultural, multiracial reality of our society. Earlier this month Jonathan Thurston was spread across national headlines not only for leading the Cowboys to victory in the Rugby League final, but also for the notably dark-skinned doll his two-year-old daughter Frankie was holding. It may not be very obvious yet in the toy sections of our variety stores but it is very evident in specialised toyshops and the educational toy suppliers that stock our day-care centres, pre-schools & early primary schools.

Diversifying the colour of dolls is the first step, but it is important to show a child that not only is your ethnic background worth embracing, but also that your background does not pigeonhole what you’re capable of. This is an important step in teaching not only children but also adults the way in which we can teach our future generations how to understand and participate in multiculturalism.

Primary Toys provides a diverse range of dolls from all ethnic backgrounds. Click HERE to see the prushka doll in hijab and HERE to see the prushka doll in saree.
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The Islamic Bookstore is a wonderful resource for not only Islamic teachings but toys as well.
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Yousuf (Talking Taljweed boy)
Aamina (talking Taljweed girl)

Kangaroo has a variety of different toys at different price points, including a variety of different finger puppets.
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Target stores stock particular brands that offer affordable dolls such as the Lots to Cuddle Babies ($9).
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